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Next, A 12 Year Old Larry King?


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NEXT, A 12-YEAR-OLD LARRY KING?

KidStar, a Seattle call-in radio station for the younger set, is pushing to go national. Owned by a group of private investors and benefiting from software giant Microsoft's and retail chain Nordstrom's funding, it just announced plans to sign up stations in 10 big U.S. cities by next spring. That way, KidStar figures it can attract lucrative national advertising; it only gets local ads now. Since its debut in May, 1993, the station's format has been a hit with its 12-and-under audience, logging 800,000 youngsters' phone calls.

Kids aren't put on the air live, for fear they'll clam up or won't be understandable. Their calls are taped and edited. Parents must consent in writing before a child's voice is used. Kids ask for advice about problems, report on what they do for play, and confess safety mishaps. Example: a 5-year-old cyclist tells how he was hurt in a fall because he wore no helmet. Adult announcers--some have squeaky voices such as the Weather Squirrel's, others don't--give kid-level versions of the news. The objective is to be upbeat, "cool," and not teacherly.

KidStar airs from 6 a.m. to midnight. That's late for most listeners, but KidStar says it reaches those who are sick or can't sleep.Dori Jones Yang


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